Who punched Rieko Ioane and why

More to stoush be­tween Ioane and Gibson than ‘high jinks’ which left All Black wing with nasty cut above eye

Weekend Herald - - Front Page - Christo­pher Reive ex­clu­sive

All Black star Rieko Ioane’s al­ter­ca­tion with a team­mate was seem­ingly more se­ri­ous than meets the eye.

The Week­end Her­ald un­der­stands Ioane suf­fered his nasty cut to the eye — ini­tially dis­missed by the Blues as the re­sult of “high jinks” — af­ter a scuf­fle with flanker Blake Gibson.

The quar­rel was al­legedly sparked by a flip­pant com­ment the 13-test winger hurled at his team­mate shortly af­ter the Blues’ em­bar­rass­ing loss to the Mel­bourne Rebels at Eden Park.

Ioane emerged at All Blacks train­ing on Tues­day sport­ing a black eye, less than 48 hours af­ter the Blues dis­missed the in­ci­dent at a pri­vate get-to­gether as “antics”.

The 21-year-old, who was rested for the clash with the Rebels, had to have the cut treated with med­i­cal glue at an A&E clinic in Auck­land af­ter the post-match al­ter­ca­tion.

In a state­ment on Sun­day, the Blues con­firmed the in­ci­dent but in­sisted there was no mal­ice. The club re­fused to name the other player, while chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Red­man said he would in­ves­ti­gate.

“We were just pok­ing fun at each other. It’s not se­ri­ous and I’ve apol­o­gised to my team­mates and the club,” Ioane said in the state­ment.

Mul­ti­ple sources told the Week­end Her­ald Ioane was punched above his left eye by Gibson af­ter he made an “up­set­ting” com­ment aimed at the 23-year-old loose for­ward.

It is un­der­stood the clash fol­lowed mount­ing ten­sion be­tween cer­tain play­ers amid the Blues’ hor­ror sea­son.

The Blues have had a night­mare Su­per Rugby cam­paign, win­ning only three of their 13 matches. They’ve also suf­fered seven home losses, with the 20-10 de­feat to the Rebels ar­guably their worst per­for­mance.

Ioane is set to start on the left wing for the All Blacks at Eden Park tonight in the first of three tests against France.

The Blues de­clined to add to their ini­tial state­ment when con­tacted by the Week­end Her­ald yes­ter­day, say­ing “the is­sue had been dealt with in­ter­nally and all par­ties had moved on”.

It added to a tough week­end for the All Blacks, with young full­back Jordie Bar­rett mak­ing head­lines af­ter a night out in Dunedin. Po­lice were called af­ter the 21-year-old Bar­rett and friend Sam Casey ended up in a stranger’s house in the early hours of Satur­day morn­ing.

The pair had de­cided to stop in at Casey’s friends’ house in the Cas­tle St area but had un­wit­tingly gone into the wrong house — en­ter­ing the prop­erty across the road from where they had meant to go.

“Ba­si­cally it was a hu­man er­ror, walked into the wrong flat and we left,” Bar­rett said. “I’m as­sum­ing they’d called the cops be­cause they might have heard some­one in their house, be­cause we walked into the house think­ing it was Sam’s mates. A few min­utes later, the penny dropped, he re­alised it wasn’t his mates’ house, we left, and then the cops came. They came and ques­tioned us, asked a few ques­tions and then we were re­leased and then went back to the ho­tel.”

Photo: Pho­to­sport

Rieko Ioane down­played the in­ci­dent, say­ing “we were just pok­ing fun . . . noth­ing se­ri­ous”.

Blake Gibson took ex­cep­tion to a com­ment made by Rieko Ioane af­ter the Rebels loss.

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